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Commentary: Get ready for more economic trouble ahead

  • Story Highlights
  • Glenn Beck: We're in for a rough ride given the financial crisis
  • Beck: We can't spend money heavily and not pay the consequences
  • Governments have raised taxes to support out-of-control spending, Beck says
  • Beck: Put party differences aside and prepare for tough times
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By Glenn Beck
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Editor's note: Glenn Beck is on CNN Headline News nightly at 7 and 9 ET and also is host of a conservative national radio talk show.

Glenn Beck says government has to cut spending and reduce taxes.

Glenn Beck says government has to cut spending and reduce taxes.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Despite the best efforts of our politicians to convince us otherwise, there is no easy way out of the financial crisis we've created.

Gimmicks and Band-Aids won't solve the underlying problem; they just delay its impact until after the election. While that might help politicians keep their jobs, it won't help you and me keep ours.

A lot of us saw what was coming before the dam broke. We didn't need fancy graphs or prize-winning economists to warn us. We just used common sense. But now that same common sense is now telling us something else: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

We can't print billions of new dollars and expect there to never be a consequence for it down the road. We can't unwind a bubble built on historic levels of greed by simply writing a check or passing a law.

I'm sorry that I don't have any magic pills to offer, but for those who are ready to stop treating our gunshot wound with painkillers and start finding some real solutions, I have a few ideas.

No. 1: Preparation, not panic.

Things could get really bad before they get better. Really, really bad. But you'll never know what's coming by watching the Dow every day -- it's a terrible indicator. In fact, the four largest percentage gains in the Dow's history happened between 1929 and 1933, a period that wasn't exactly a great time to buy.

What we're experiencing right now are the outer bands of a hurricane with an eye that likely won't hit us for another year or two. In the meantime, there will be plenty of sunny days, but they'll just distract us from what's coming. Stay focused on what your gut tells you is still churning just offshore.

As you wait, do what those in the path of a real hurricane do: prepare. Build an emergency cash fund, store some extra food, learn a new skill, consult a financial adviser ... do anything that will get you and your family ready. Just don't panic.

No. 2: Early retirement.

Does anyone else find it odd that some of the same people who proved their financial incompetence during the S&L crisis, the dot-com bubble and the housing bubble are still in office to guide us through this economic crisis?

John McCain (first elected to Congress in 1982), Joe Biden (1972), Robert Byrd (1952), John Dingell (1955), Daniel Inouye (1962) and Ted Stevens (1968) are just a few examples of national politicians who were seemingly roaming Washington right alongside the dinosaurs.

How many of you have been in the same job since the '70s? Outside of politics (and "60 Minutes"), it just doesn't happen.

I understand the case against term limits. I know that some people believe it would force them to retire just as they begin to "master" (please, no laughter) the issues -- but is that really a bad thing?

Maybe having people who are curious enough to ask simple questions about seemingly routine issues is exactly what we need. For example, a great question circa 2004 might have been: "So what happens if housing prices ever start to decline?"

No. 3: Power isn't permanent. Take it back.

Giving our government more and more power every year has almost become routine. But when's the last time we've told our leaders that they're doing such a lousy job we want some of it back?

Massachusetts is now trying just that. On Election Day, their residents will vote on whether to eliminate their state income tax. If passed, each Massachusetts taxpayer would save an average of about $3,600 a year.

Of course, establishment politicians are sounding all kinds of dire warnings about what will happen to state programs without the tax, but I'd be willing to bet that they'll find a way to adapt and survive. After all, it's not called "Taxachusetts" for nothing.

Just remember our government has power only because We the People lend it to them. Maybe it's time to treat them like the subprime borrower they are and recall that loan.

No. 4: Live within your means and demand our leaders do the same.

In 1991, my home state of Connecticut (the Constitution State -- oh, the irony) was suffering from a budget deficit of nearly a billion dollars.

Instead of using those hard times as an opportunity to convince the state to start living within their means, the governor proposed an income tax. After a long stalemate, the General Assembly eventually agreed.

Now, 17 years later, that income tax (which, of course, has been raised over the years) is projected to bring in about $7.6 billion. Add in $350 million in revenue from Indian casinos that wasn't there in 1991, and Connecticut now has nearly $8 billion in new revenue to play with.

So, with all of that money, they must now have massive surpluses, right? Wrong. Connecticut's governor recently announced that this year's budget deficit has increased to $300 million, and she says it might still get worse.

How did it happen? Easy: out-of-control spending. In 1991, Connecticut's spending budget was $7.6 billion. Now? It's $17.5 billion -- an increase of 130 percent. Believe me, as someone who lives in Connecticut, there hasn't been a 130 percent improvement in roads, schools or hospitals over that time.

It's time to stop giving these clowns any more money (see No. 3, above) and force them to start living within their means.

No. 5: Goodnight Saigon

The chorus of Billy Joel's famous song about the Vietnam War still rings true today: We will all go down together.

When the eye of the storm finally comes ashore, nothing will be less relevant than whether you're a registered Democrat or Republican. It didn't matter during Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis or Oklahoma City, and I certainly don't remember anyone asking to see a voter ID card before they gave you a hug on 9/11.

If September 11 was the worst day in American history, then September 12 was one of the best. Do you remember what it was like? Lines at blood banks; filled-up churches; neighbors watching out for each other; families sitting around the dinner table and talking to each other.

It was the America we all long for -- and we can have it back. But if you're waiting for another historic crisis to convince you to put the donkeys and elephants aside and reconnect with each other, then open your eyes; we're in the middle of it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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